Tony Romo looks to continue his climb up the Dallas Cowboys record book on Monday night. He’ll need to contend with the Chicago Bears' relentless pass rush, as well as some of his usual targets that haven’t yet delivered.
Romo is currently tied for third most touchdown passes (153) in Cowboys history with Roger Staubach. With two more, he’d tie Danny White for second, and Troy Aikman’s franchise record is 12 away.
Most Pass TD
To get there on Monday, he may need two of his familiar targets to break out.
Despite ranking second on the Cowboys with 20 targets, don’t look for Dez Bryant to be on the receiving end of one of those touchdown throws.
Bryant hasn’t been thrown to once in the red zone this season, after leading the Cowboys with 13 red zone targets in 2011. Entering Week 4, only five receivers had more targets without a receiving touchdown this season.
With only eight receptions for 76 yards through three games, Jason Witten isn’t putting up his traditional big numbers. At this point last season, he had 19 catches for 272 yards.
Romo has completed only 44 percent (8-for-18) of his passes to Witten this season, well down from the 74 percent he’d completed over the previous three seasons. Much of that falls on Witten. He entered Week 4 leading the NFL in drops with six.
The two have particularly had issues connecting inside the painted numbers, with Witten dropping half of his 12 targets. Romo is 3-of-12 with an interception when targeting Witten there. Last year, he caught 50-of-64 targets inside the numbers.
Romo’s biggest challenge on Monday night will be a Bears defense that is rapidly racking up sacks. Chicago entered the week leading the NFL with 14 sacks and second in takeaways with nine.
The 14 sacks are their most through three games since totaling 24 in 1987. It’s two more than the 1985 Bears had after three games.
Most Sacks Through 1st 3 Games
Bears Since 1982
Chicago’s defense is getting it done despite using a standard pass rush. The Bears have used a four-man pass rush on 77.5 percent of dropbacks, sixth-highest in the league.
Last year the Bears defense sent four or fewer rushers at a similar rate (74.2 percent), but did not get their 14th sack until Week 7.
That pass rush figures to chase Romo out of the pocket on Monday. That might not be a bad thing for the Cowboys. Since 2010, Romo has 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions when throwing from outside the pocket. No quarterback has more touchdowns without an interception in that span.